Formed by volcanic action 3-million years ago, Réunion stands out — literally — in the Indian Ocean for its dramatic heights. With an area of 2,500km2, its middle is marked by rugged mountains, lush calderas and tropical forests. Consider that its highest peak, Piton des Neiges (Peak of Snow), is 3,069m above sea level, but just 20km from the coast, and you may have some idea of the topographical theatrics that await you — theatrics that have led some to call the island an open-air museum and a haven for hikers, climbers and lovers of all things outdoors. (It has more than 900km of waymarked trails).
Réunion National Park covers 10,000ha of the island's heart, making a whopping 42% of the land protected. The park was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2010 for its “pitons, cirques and remparts” (volcanic peaks, craters, and steep rock walls), hailed for their “exceptional landscapes and biodiversity”.